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The Standard for Responsible Mining

Posted by: Megan Cartwright

Even the most vehement supporters of Mining, including the businesses like Worldwide Recruitment Solutions who depend on the industry, can’t argue against the dangers of its environmental footprint taking a toll on some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems. Mining’s presence in remote and often beautiful regions can scar landscapes, but it’s also an important employer in regions such as Africa, where emerging economies can offer their citizens opportunities unrivalled in the local economy.

With the increasing impact of climate change, the destruction of important habitats, increasing news with regards to records on workers’ rights and a greater awareness globally of environmental issues, Mining companies have long been considering their own and the wider industry’s environmental and social footprints - looking at further ways to reduce their impact. 

One such scheme is the IRMA – the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance. Although they haven’t yet begun to certify responsible operations, this will begin once a final Standard for Responsible Mining has been approved. The Standard for Responsible Mining (picture it as a sort of Fairtrade or Organic certification for the Mining and Metals industries) will define the sustainability standards to which leading companies should aim, including the following:

Fair Labour and Work Terms

  • No mistreatment including child and forced labour, discrimination, inadequate wages, lack of respect for workers’ rights.
  • Rights and access to unions, without fear of discrimination, and right to strike.
  • Equal opportunities and fair treatment for workers, aside from in the case of targets or quotas mandated by law, or local agreements where regards residents, indigenous peoples and/or historically disadvantaged groups.
  • At least 24 consecutive hours off every 7 days

Environmental Considerations

  • Waste Management Considerations
  • Water Quality/Quantity
  • Air and Noise Quality
  • Emissions
  • Protected Areas
  • Biodiversity
  • Cyanide (including compliance with the Cyanide Code)
  • Mercury management
  • Environmental and Social Impact Assessments
  • Reclamation and Closure Considerations

Not only will this accreditation ensure workers are treated fairly, it will also take steps to improve their safety at work (including where involved handling of mercury and cyanide, both of which are highly toxic), and also the safety of those around them through increased environmental protection.

From working alongside our clients within the mining industry for many years now, we know that environmental and workers’ issues are close to their hearts, and Mining companies know that it makes good business sense to protect their staff and the environment – so this initiative will be a welcome addition to the whole industry.

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